Woodridge residents Bob and Gloria Pluta have spent the majority of their 44-year marriage scrunched into suburbia, surrounded by neighbors, cars, and noise. When the Covid-19 pandemic hit back in 2020, the constant closeness made them realize that something had to change.
They had to find some physical and mental space.
So they did. And now: “You can’t even see the house from the street,” Gloria says of the couple’s sprawling new home set on two acres of wooded land in LeClaire, Iowa. “The town is beautiful and historic, but the house gives us the space we have long been looking for.”
Indeed, the somewhat silent seclusion of the pandemic gave many people like the Plutas the time to truly consider what they want their life to look like moving forward.
These decisions led to big moves, new jobs, and shifting priorities. In fact, 15.9 million people moved during the first six months of the pandemic, according to change of address data from the United States Postal Service.
While the pandemic has forced many people to retreat, others have used the opportunity to reset. Many people have taken an in-depth inventory of their life and reprioritized what is important to them, putting their mental health back in order.
“People are making goal-related decisions about where they live, what they do, how they spend their time, how they work, and how much they work,” says psychiatrist Nehama Dresner, MD. “They want to do things differently. I think that this period of time has given people an opportunity to really reflect on what’s important to them and how they want to plan out the rest of their lives.”
Everyone’s response to major change is different, Dresner says, resulting in a range of emotions.
“Ultimately, there may be a shift to a greater sense of comfort — whether that means being with your partner, being at home with your family, or being alone — more than we might’ve experienced before,” Dresner says.
When hitting the reset button, it’s important to figure out your own priorities.
“I think the silver lining of this whole pandemic was the fact that people really appreciated what it means to be part of their kids’ lives, how important family life is, and what it means to really make a relationship work,” Dresner says. “Once you know those sorts of things, then you can figure out how to coordinate your life around that.”
And that’s exactly what the Pluta family has done. “We love to travel, and we are just a road trip away from all of our kids,” Gloria says. “Living in our new home is going to be different for all of us, but it’s going to be so worth it.”